Daniella's Reviews > A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty  Smith
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it was amazing
bookshelves: classics, historical-fiction, favorites, rereadable, to-buy, 2011, coming-of-age
Recommended for: Everyone
Read 4 times. Last read May 10, 2011 to May 15, 2011.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is my absolute favorite book of all time.

While the story is set at the turn of the century (1902-1919) and contains many historical elements that may feel alien to the modern reader, the message that is subtly and intricately woven into the fabric of the story is one that I feel not only transcends the ages, but also one with which many of us can identify.

The protagonist, Francie, and her family represent the sort of wonderfully complex characters who come alive in the reader's mind as fully as if they were old friends. Detractors say that Francie fits the depressing Pauper archetype, who spends the vast majority of the book being beaten down by her unfortunate circumstances. For me, however, she unfolds into a delightful character who is easy to love; a heroine who strikes a delicate balance between sinner and saint, full of humor, wit, compassion, strength, imagination and a unique perspective on the world around her.

Altogether, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a fantastic book that is engrossing, evocative, poignant and inspiring.
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Quotes Daniella Liked

Betty  Smith
“She was made up of more, too. She was the books she read in the library. She was the flower in the brown bowl. Part of her life was made from the tree growing rankly in the yard. She was the bitter quarrels she had with her brother whom she loved dearly. She was Katie's secret, despairing weeping. She was the shame of her father stumbling home drunk. She was all of these things and of something more...It was what God or whatever is His equivalent puts into each soul that is given life - the one different thing such as that which makes no two fingerprints on the face of the earth alike.”
Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Betty  Smith
“Well' Francie decided, 'I guess the thing that is giving me this headache is life - and nothing else but'.”
Betty Smith, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn

The world was hers for the reading.
“The world was hers for the reading.”
Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Betty  Smith
“Dear God," she prayed, "let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry...have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere - be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.”
Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Betty  Smith
“Because," explained Mary Rommely simply, "the child must have a valuable thing which is called imagination. The child must have a secret world in which live things that never were. It is necessary that she believe. She must start out by believing in things not of this world. Then when the world becomes too ugly for living in, the child can reach back and live in her imagination. I, myself, even in this day and at my age, have great need of recalling the miraculous lives of the Saints and the great miracles that have come to pass on earth. Only by having these things in my mind can I live beyond what I have to live for.”
Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn


Reading Progress

Finished Reading
Finished Reading
Finished Reading
August 5, 2008 – Shelved
August 5, 2008 – Shelved as: classics
August 5, 2008 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
November 3, 2008 – Shelved as: favorites
December 15, 2008 – Shelved as: rereadable
May 7, 2011 – Shelved as: to-buy
May 7, 2011 –
page 61
12.37%
May 10, 2011 – Started Reading
May 10, 2011 –
page 139
28.19%
May 11, 2011 –
page 306
62.07%
May 14, 2011 –
page 416
84.38%
May 15, 2011 – Finished Reading
May 16, 2011 – Shelved as: 2011
May 16, 2011 – Shelved as: coming-of-age

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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Wendy My favorite book of all time as well. Beautiful.


Annie This is also my all time favorite book. I had a traumatic childhood and spent many hours alone exploring the attic of my grandfather's house, but there were very few books to read. I read this book over and over. Like Francie, I wanted to read every book in the library. As an adult, whenever I felt that times were hard, I remembered the can of coins nailed to the floor and knew I was doing just fine. Francie and Neeley helped me through rough times.


message 3: by Sharyl (new)

Sharyl Sicoli My daughter has it as a summer read assignment...,, I'm gonna read it too!


Daniella Cool, I hope you enjoy it! :)


Brandy I love this book- it's my favorite book, as well! Francie is such a well-developed character. The story resonated very deeply with me.


message 6: by KA (new) - rated it 5 stars

KA This is also my favorite book of all time. I've read it so many times an reread it probably once a year. :) Absolutely beautiful.


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